All posts by Paul J. McAndrew, Jr.

Injured Texas worker awarded $5.3 million

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

In April of 2007 Charles Robison, a worker for Texas-based West Star Transportation, suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling headfirst off an unevenly loaded flatbed trailer. At the time of the accident, West Star had “opted-out” of the Texas workers’ compensation system and forfeited its protection against negligence law suits by its employees.

 Mr. Robison filed a lawsuit in January of 2009 against his employer, and a jury found that West Star’s negligence caused Mr. Robison’s injuries.  He was awarded $5.3 million dollars in damages.

The judgment included: “$3.7 million for Mr. Robison’s past and future medical care, $1 million for past and future physical pain and mental anguish and $400,000 for Ms. Robison’s past and future loss of consortium, as well as additional payments for Mr. Robison’s loss of earning capacity and physical impairment.”

On January 23, 2015 a three-judge panel in the Texas 7th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the jury’s decision. Employers who want to be allowed to “opt-out” of workers’ compensation programs need to understand that one of the great benefits to the employer under workers’ compensation is the protection against civil law suits.

 

Original post by Sheena Harrison, writer for www.businessinsurance.com

http://bit.ly/1v4XYkK

 

 

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Let’s Think About Medical Marijuana for Injured Workers

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Nebraska, known for its conservative views, is considering legalization of medical marijuana. Sen. Tommy Garrett writes a passionate, persuasive and practical letter to constituents in support of medical marijuana. 

“Bottom line up front: The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act (LB643) is all about making life better for Nebraskans who are sick and ailing. Period! Nothing more … nothing less. This is entirely about helping very sick people in need who deserve the right to a medication that treats their illnesses.” Sen. Tommy Garrett

Sen. Garrett is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and a registered Republican, and his views may surprise some people. He deserves credit for his advocacy on this issue. 

Relief from chronic pain is one use for medical marijuana. Chronic pain is an all-too-common problem for injured people. Current treatment patterns with strong opiates have reached crisis status. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam now allow medical marijuana. It seems now is a good time to study and consider adding marijuana as an alternative to the very dangerous opioids. 

Sen. Garrett put it this way. 

“While Washington may be broken, Nebraska is not. States have rights and I trust that the decision makers here in Lincoln will join me in looking at the research and see that cannabis has demonstrated effectiveness in treating cancer, ALS, MS, Dravet’s syndrome and other terminal and debilitating illnesses. I’m doing this because stuff needs fixing.”

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Workers’ Comp Programs Further Injure Injured Workers

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

Those of us who represent injured workers have known for a long time that workers’ compensation does not restore an injured worker to his pre-injury wage or status.  Two reports released in March show how workplace injuries have failed injured workers and leave them deeper in debt.  OSHA released a report indicating the changes in workers’ compensation programs have made it much more difficult for injured workers to receive benefits or medical expenses.  Although employers pay insurance premiums to workers’ compensation insurance companies who are supposed to pay benefits for medical expenses, employers provide just 20% of the overall financial cost of workplace injuries through workers’ compensation according to the OSHA report. 

This “cost shifting” is borne by the taxpayer.  As a result of this cost shifting, taxpayers are subsidizing the vast majority of the income and medical care costs of injured workers.  After a work injury, injured workers’ incomes average more than $30,000 lower over a decade than if they had not been injured.  Additionally, very low wage workers are injured at a disproportionate rate. 

Another report by ProPublica and National Public Radio found that 33 states have workers’ compensation laws that reduced benefits or made it more difficult for those with certain injuries and diseases to qualify for benefits.  Those hurdles, combined with employers and insurers increasing control of medical decisions (such as whether an injured worker needs surgery) reduced the worker’s likelihood of obtaining the medical care needed.

Overall, injured workers who should be paid under workers’ compensation are receiving less benefits and their medical care is being dodged by insurers and paid for by taxpayers through Medicaid and Medicare, or by increased insurance premiums for all of us through group health insurance rate increases.

Our general sense that injured workers are faring poorly is borne out by the research.

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Workers’ Compensation: The Man-made Quagmire (Part 1 of 3)

I’m starting here a three-part series explaining why workers should claim their rights under workers’ compensation laws.  The three parts are, in summary: 

  1. How the employer makes it tough to claim work comp;
  2. How the insurer makes it tough to claim work comp; and
  3. Summary:  Why it’s Important to You and your Family that you Claim Work Comp when You are Hurt on the Job. 

Below is the first installment.

 


Workers’ compensation [“work comp”] is every workers’ right. Yet, researchers years ago determined that many employers and most work comp insurers try their best to persuade workers to not make claims. That “persuasion” takes many forms. It’s important that workers know that this “persuasion” is calculated and how to deal with it. Why? Because workers’ compensation benefits are your right and those benefits are important to you, your family and the overall safety of your workplace.

Part 1: Dealing with the Employer’s Persuasion Tactics 

  1. Suppressing Reporting of Work Injuries: Pizza-Bingo Party!! — Nancy Lessin (the MA AFL-CIO Health & Safety Coordinator) taught me years ago that giving workers some type of prize for so many hours without a reported injury is NOT based on generosity. No, it’s based on cost cutting. It’s also completely contrary to public policy!

    Work comp is required by law. One of work comp’s basic purposes is to make workplaces safer. How? By making employers pay higher work comp premiums in circumstances in which there are high rates of injuries, thus giving the employer financial incentives to implement safety measures to keep injury rates low, leading to lower premium costs. Some sly employer offer such things as pizza parties, small bonuses, gift-drawings and the like knowing full well that doing so puts pressure on the workers to not report work injuries.

    Why? Because the more a worker cares about her/his brothers and sisters, the more likely the worker will — when hurt at work — do the wrong thing.  What’s the wrong thing? It’s preserving your friends’ pizza party or “prize” by putting the accident as “personal,” and putting the costs on health insurance, LTD and lost sick/vacation time. The problem with this is often not discovered until too late. What do I mean “too late?” I mean when the health insurance company investigates and finds the injury was caused by work and thus denies coverage under the standard health insurance exclusion for work injuries. And when the time missed due to the work injury outstrips the amount of sick and vacation you’ve banked for the last 13 years. Even that does not account for what happens years later.

    First, you work injury may be “the gift that keeps on giving.” It may require 2 or even 3 surgeries, leading to even more medical expenses and time off work. Only work comp pays this.  No LTD or health insurance comes close. Bottom line: Don’t be misled by the “gifts” for no reported work injuries. The only entity getting that “gift” is your employer.

  2. Termination—Yes, we all know the employer who makes up an excuse — ANY excuse — and fires the injured worker within days of the injury.  This is illegal under all public policy, Iowa law (Springer v. Weeks) and U.S. law (the Americans with Disabilities Act).
  3. Return to work at a job that is not within even the company doctor’s work restrictions. Remember — not trying a tendered job — any job — sets up the argument that the worker is “insubordinate,” “refusing work” or “no-call/no-show.” One must try any job, whether the job’s tasks are within restrictions or not. One need not, however, continue to do any tasks that cause worsening of the work-injury condition. If asked to do something outside restrictions set by the doctor:
    1. report that the job’s outside your restrictions;
    2. when told to do the job anyway (which will likely happen), perform the job the best you can and hope for the best; and
    3. if the job does what is feared — worsens your injury condition — go to the company workers’ compensation officer and demand a return to the company doctor immediately, before your injury is permanently worsened.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2: Dealing with the Insurance Company’s Persuasion Tactics.

The workers’ compensation system is broken — and it’s driving people into poverty

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.washingtonpost.com

There’s a good news/bad news situation for occupational injuries in the United States: Fewer people are getting hurt on the job. But those who do are getting less help.

That’s according to a couple of important new reports out Wednesday on how the system for cleaning up workplace accidents is broken — both because of the changing circumstances of the people who are getting injured, and the disintegration of programs that are supposed to pay for them.

The first comes from the Department of Labor, which aims to tie the 3 million workplace injuries reported per year — the number is actually much higher, because many workers fear raising the issue with their employers — into the ongoing national conversation about inequality. In an overview of research on the topic, the agency finds that low-wage workers (especially Latinos) have disproportionately high injury rates, and that injuries can slice 15 percent off a person’s earnings over 10 years after the accident.

“Income inequality is a very active conversation led by the White House,” David Michaels, director of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, said in an interview. “Injuries are knocking many families out of the middle class, and block many low-wage workers from getting out of poverty. So we think it’s an important component of this conversation.”

There are two main components to the financial implications of a workplace injury. The first is the legal…

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Shelby County teen’s alleged murder sparks $10 million wrongful death lawsuit

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.al.com

The alleged murder of Cameron McGlothan, 19, in 2013 has sparked a lawsuit against a security company and the developer of a north Shelby County subdivision. 

The family of a teen who was allegedly murdered in March 2013 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a security company and developer of a north Shelby County subdivision for allowing the two suspects in the case to enter the gated community and abduct the victim.

The parents of Cameron McGlothan filed a lawsuit in Shelby County Circuit Court last Friday that seeks $10 million for the wrongful death of their son against Walden Security Inc. and Eddleman Properties Inc.

In the lawsuit, Dawn and Ernest McGlothan accuse the two companies of failing to follow policies and procedures by allowing the two men, who were later charged with murder in the case, to enter the Highland Lakes subdivision on Highway 41 and abduct the 19-year-old.

The lawsuit alleges the guard station operated by Walden at Highland Lakes’ entrance did not get proper identification from Justin Hamilton and Demarcus Samuels, both of whom have been charged with capital murder in the case.

The two suspects provided incorrect names to guards while video equipment at the gate did not accurately record their vehicle’s tag number, which caused a delay in their identification, according to the lawsuit.

The McGlothans accuse the companies of breach of contract, negligence, wrongful death and negligent training and supervision, according to the lawsuit filed…

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Facebook Postings Hurt Workers’ Compensation Claims

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

While Facebook is extremely popular and used by over a billion people every day, no Facebook posting has ever helped an injured worker in a workers’ compensation claim. On the contrary, use of a Facebook page poses real dangers for injured workers pursuing workers’ compensation benefits.

Since Facebook is a public site, anything posted can be used by respondent insurance companies in claims denial. Even the most benign postings (birthday parties, family gatherings, etc.) can pose problems. For example, a grandparent lifting a 30 pound grandchild when doctors have imposed a 10 pound lifting limit could damage a claim. Additionally, nothing prevents an Administrative Law Judge from looking at a Facebook page.  Even innocent posts may be subject to misinterpretation. A picture of the worker riding a motorcycle or fishing taken prior to the injury but posted afterward could place the seed of doubt in an ALJ’s mind that the worker is not as limited as he claims. The best advice is to be extremely careful about what is posted because “friends” are not the only one who can access your Facebook page.

Lawsuit: SRC violated former teachers’ rights

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.philly.com

Travel Deals

THREE RETIRED Philadelphia School District teachers have filed a federal lawsuit against the School Reform Commission, former chair Bill Green, the city and other parties for allegedly violating their constitutional rights during an SRC meeting.

The trio – Ilene Poses, Lisa Haver and Barbara Dowdall – say the violations occurred during a Feb. 18 meeting at which commissioners voted on charter-school applications, according to the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. The plaintiffs are members of the advocacy group Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

The Feb. 18 meeting was contentious, with four people arrested on disorderly-conduct charges, and the plaintiffs were not allowed to display signs opposing new charter-school approvals, the suit says.

Representatives from charter operator KIPP, however, were allowed to distribute and wear T-shirts in support of KIPP schools, the suit says.

The suit also claims that a school police officer named as a defendant, John Augustine, illegally went into Haver’s shopping bag without permission and swiped all the protest signs inside.

"Without cause or justification, and at least in part in retaliation for the exercise of the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights and to chill the exercise of those rights, the defendants seized the plaintiffs, confiscated their signs and violated the plaintiffs’ liberty interests," the suit says.

A school district spokeswoman said the district would not comment on…

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